Congress of the United States,
There is a specific issue I would like to address, and that is the Exclusionary Rule. I am most certain that you are familiar with the Exclusionary Rule, and its meaning. The Exclusionary Rule is grounded by the Fourth Amendment, and its intentions are to protect citizens from illegal search and seizures. I am most definitely for this rule. I am a firm believer in our constitutional rights, and if it were not for the Exclusionary Rule, a lot of citizens that were charged with a crime after they were illegally searched will be found guilty, convicted, and then sentenced even though the evidence that was presented against them was gathered illegally. That is flat out a violation of their Fourth Amendment rights. If there was no Fourth Amendment, or Exclusionary Rule, a lot of people would be convicted of crimes based on the said evidence gathered was gathered illegally against them, and that would most likely give law enforcement the opportunity to gather evidence in a less morale way. I am not saying that all police officials would use these illegal tactics to gather evidence to convict a defendant, but there are some. Example: Mapp vs. Ohio May 1957. May 23, 1957 Cleveland Ohio police officials were following up on information they had about a bombing suspect was housed at Dollree Mapp house. They were also under the impression that there was also illegal gambling equipment in the house. The police attempted to try and search the house, but Ms. Mapp called her attorney, and refused to let the police search her home. The police officers left but continued to surveillance her and when she did not come to the door immediately, the police took it upon themselves, and forcefully gained entrance to her home. She then demanded to see the warrant, and when they did not give it to her, she snatched it from the officer. The officers struggled with her to get the paper back, and also hurt her in the process of the struggle. They then handcuffed her. The paper was not a legally document for the search of her going through everything, even her photo albums. They found no illegal gambling equipment, nor did they find the bombing suspect that was supposedly housed at that location. What they did find was some obscene materials that were illegal to have under Ohio??™s obscenity law. Therefore, she was charged with violating that law, and was convicted and sent to prison. She appealed her case, and her argument was that Ohio??™s state obscenity law violated her right to freedom of thought under the First Amendment. The court rejected her appeal, so she then evidence found during an illegal search without a warrant. By the court relying on Wolf vs. Colorado 1949 the Ohio Supreme Court rejected this argument, and affirmed her conviction. Mapp went to the U.S. Supreme Court then. The court therefore ignored the violation of her First Amendment right, and concentrated on the illegal search and seizure. The court decided to overrule ???Wolf???, and apply the Exclusionary Rule to the states. The U.S. Supreme Court emphasized that the Fourth Amendment was designed to protect the privacy for Americans in their homes. Without the Exclusionary Rule, state police are encouraged to invade privacy with illegal search and seizures. It also encourages federal law enforcement to violate the Fourth Amendment and then give the illegal evidence to the states. Clark (member of U.S. Supreme Court) said the Exclusionary Rule not only protects privacy, but also fosters respect for the law. “Nothing can destroy a government more quickly than its failure to observe its own laws. . . . If the Government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt [disrespect] for the law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.” Now, there are times when the Fourth Amendment will not protect you. Example: In January 1919 the United States adopted the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Eighteenth Amendment made it illegal to manufacture, sell, and transport alcohol in the United States. Because many Americans still wanted to drink alcohol, gangs of organized criminals entered the liquor trade. They made their own alcohol for sale in the United States and smuggled alcohol in from other countries.
Under the Volstead Act, Congress gave federal law enforcement the power to seize vehicles and arrest persons illegally transporting alcohol. Fred Cronenwett was a federal law enforcement officer. On September 29, 1921, Cronenwett went undercover to an apartment in Grand Rapids, Michigan. There he met John Carroll, who took Cronenwetts order for three cases of whiskey. Although Carroll never delivered the whiskey, Cronenwett remembered what Carroll and his car looked like.
A few months later on December 15, Cronenwett and two other officers were driving down the highway from Grand Rapids to Detroit, Michigan, when they passed Carroll and John Kiro going the other way. Smugglers frequently used that road to bring alcohol into the country from Canada. The officers turned around, caught up to Carroll and Kiro, and told them to pull over. The officers then searched the car without a warrant and found 69 quarts of whiskey. The United States convicted Carroll and Kiro of violating the Volstead Act and the Eighteenth Amendment. Carroll and Kiro appealed their convictions to the U.S. Supreme Court. They said searching their car without a warrant violated the Fourth Amendment. With a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court disagreed and affirmed their convictions.
Chief Justice William Howard Taft wrote the opinion for the Court. Taft said the Fourth Amendment protects privacy by requiring searches to be reasonable. It does not, however, require a warrant for all searches. When police believe a private home has evidence of a crime, it is reasonable to require them to get a warrant before searching the place. The house cannot go anywhere.
The case is different with automobiles and other moving vehicles. When a police officer sees an automobile that might contain evidence of a crime, there is no time to get a search warrant. The driver can hide the car or leave the state and escape the police officers jurisdiction, or area of power. That means it is unreasonable to require the police to get a warrant to search an automobile.
Taft emphasized, however, that officers enforcing the Volstead Act could not stop and search cars at random. To conduct any search, the Fourth Amendment requires probable cause, which means good reason to believe the place to be searched has evidence of a crime. That meant officers enforcing the Volstead Act were limited to searching cars that probably contained illegal alcohol.
The Supreme Court decided that Cronenwett and his fellow officers had probable cause to search Carroll and Kiros car. Cronenwett knew Carroll was involved in the liquor trade because Cronenwett went undercover to order illegal whiskey from Carroll. Cronenwett also knew that alcohol smugglers often used the road between Detroit and Grand Rapids. Chief Justice Taft said that when Cronenwett saw Carroll driving on that road, Cronenwett had good reason to believe the car contained illegal alcohol, which it did.
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